Last year on a ski trip, our dear family friend Brenda asked us what our oldest daughter wanted for her birthday. I told her I had asked her the same thing, and she wrote a list that read “Dog, Dog, Dog, Dog, Dog, iPod.” It was clear what she wanted. Our friend knew the scenario; the kids and I desperately wanted a dog. My husband emphatically did not. At dinner a few days later, on my daughter’s actual birthday, Brenda announced to her, “I got you a puppy for your birthday!” We thought she was joking, until she explained that her daughter’s dog was going to have puppies in the spring, and she had put in a call to reserve one for us. We all cheered, as my husband protested in stunned disbelief, “You can’t do that!” It turned out, she could, aided by the fact that Brenda is also a very dear friend of my husband’s parents, who wholly supported the idea. I assured him that he need not worry; at this point we were being given a hypothetical puppy, not yet conceived. I understood his apprehension, the mess, the smell, the travel limitations, all would add to our already chaotic household with four young children. He is, after all, the pragmatist of our family, and had never had a dog.
We got the call a month or so later, the puppies were due in six weeks and we had to let them know if we wanted one. The pressure was on; it would have been very difficult for my husband to say no at this point. In his best legalese he wrote a three-page contract for the rest of the family to uphold if he were to acquiesce. We all had to sign it, even our youngest who could not yet read, but could scrawl his name on the line. A few months later Leonardo daVinci joined our family. We call him Leo for short. Having grown up with dogs I knew it was going to be a big responsibility, but I had never before been the adult responsible for the puppy stage. To be honest, it was much more work than I had expected. I felt like we had a newborn again; I was getting no sleep, cleaning up the messes, and the puppy was in constant need of supervision. I could not complain though, I had signed a contract stating that I would take sole responsibility for our new addition! Those adorable little fur balls also come with razor sharp teeth and a penchant for chewing. Aside from a few shoes, some molding, and a bicycle helmet my husband thinks we lost..shhh…the damage has been pretty minimal. Now that Leo is over a year old, and trained (kind of), he has smoothly folded into the rhythm of our family routines. Having a dog has added an enriching dimension to our household that is difficult to describe.
If you are thinking about getting a puppy, it should be a well thought out decision. They are a huge amount of work up front, and will always need lots of your time and attention. There are plenty of dogs out there that need good homes. Check your options, and do your research. You may even consider getting an older dog that is already trained, if you don’t want to go through the puppy stage. If you are ready to commit to the responsibility, then adding a dog to your family can be incredibly rewarding for everyone. My husband has come around, and loves Leo as much as the rest of us. We will forever be deeply grateful to Brenda for giving us the gift of Leo, and the fulfilling experience of dog companionship. It could not have happened for us any other way!